Wednesday, January 22, 2014
Writer Wednesday: A History of the World in 100 Objects
It's time for Writer Wednesday, when I discuss another author and his or her book. Today's pick is Neil MacGregor's A History of the World in 100 Objects. I received this book for Christmas this year and very much enjoyed it! Last spring, I read MacGregor's Shakespeare's Restless World. It too takes objects and tells the stories of those objects in relation to a greater context. In the case of Shakespeare's Restless World, he relates everyday objects of the sixteenth and early seventeenth century to Shakespeare's plays and audience. Here, in A History of the World in 100 Objects, the stage is broadened. Not only are items picked that address the entire world, but millions of years, rather than a few decades, are spanned.
MacGregor is the director of the British Museum in London, a place that I could easily imagine living in for about a month or so to examine all the objects. When I visited, I said exactly that. You need only travel to a comfortable chair, though, to encounter the fascinating objects from all regions of the world and from diverse areas such as writing, cooking, economics, power and religion in this book. MacGregor's work in the museum makes sense that he would interpret history through objects. That is in part the motive of a museum- to preserve and protect, as well as interpret the artifacts of history. My own background from my studies is in history, specifically related to international relations, and so I found particular interest in how he presented a narrative of the interconnectedness of societies and civilizations.
This is a fascinating book that details the objects of our lives and how we create, use, re-purpose and reinvent their meanings as history progresses. In that way, a museum is not so different from historical fiction. Both take a snapshot of part of the past and present it in a palpable way for the audience. MacGregor has certainly done that here. In fact, he's done it 100 times.
My best to you all,